Get a free audiobook

Consider Phlebas

Culture Series, Book 1
Written by: Iain M. Banks
Narrated by: Peter Kenny
Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
4 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The first Culture novel, now available as an unabridged audio download.

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Consider Phlebas is a space opera of stunning power and awesome imagination.

©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Digital

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    24
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    22
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Mis-fire

Consider Phlebas is something of a grand failure. Clearly, Mr Banks has wooed a size-able following, and so I don't mean his failure is material or communicative. Rather, the failure of the novel relates to its intended purpose: to introduce a new reader to the relatively unique concept of the Culture (a space-faring social Utopia that is Banks' response to traditional science fiction conceits) by ushering it in through the eyes of a sworn opponent, and then convincing the reader to mis-believe that perception.

To do that, an author needs the trust and confidence of the reader - and to gain that trust and confidence, the author must demonstrate that they can handle the task they are set about. It ultimately doesn't matter whether Banks can succeed in convincing readers that the Culture is a force for good if those same readers have quit the book in frustration.

#Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Densely written.

Tough reading, but worth it. I'll read the next entry. I wouldn't recommend this for reading in the gym. It requires way too much concentration.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Missing Its 2nd Dimension So Totally It Breaks

This book is weird. It has characters (1st Dimension). It has large world that makes alot of sense and is very interesting (3rd Dimension). That is why it is so confusing. Its characters are like 2 dimensions pieces of inconsistent paper with not just no coherent thought processes, but with like.. none. Its like they have no object permanence. Peoples actions and thoughts were wholly railroaded the entire book pulled along by the single character that apparently actually had free will: The main character. Its like they all knew they were side characters, just accepted it or something and didn't bother to break the mold.

The epilogue having to do with the characters was just complete and utter nonsense. You don't take someone with that level of education and professionalism and then make them surprised/misunderstand the very things they were raised and trained to understand out of nowhere. She already knew the answers. WHY WAS SHE SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS.

I think this author has alot of great ideas when it comes to thought experiments and universe building. I enjoyed the adventure through their universe and the questions they raised. How we got around though... what...

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Decent series opener

-1 perf for some skipping at end.
A decent opening to the Culture series. Occurs on the fringe of a galactic war between the AI utopian Culture and a militant theocratic biological species. Nothing particularly mindblowing occurs, but it's a cool world, and fairly action packed.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

loved it

the end is nothing you could have imagined. fast paced but in middle there too much unnecassary unnecessary detail.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Overall Good story.. but

Still trying to finish this one. Between listening to other audiobooks and other things that occupy my time i found this book took the back burner to more interesting projects. I am not saying the story isn't bad. It is a well written book. It however failed to keep my attention because there are what felt to me slower scenes in the book. I have three hours left to finish and I hope to finish the first book in the series.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

An interesting milieu story

The story is entertaining, but most importantly, Bank's world is fascinating. I found the performance good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Cracking Read

edge of your seat sci-fi that has become more relevant as time goes by and certainly now as we sit on the cusp of making some of the technology a reality.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mind Expanding (and a little gory)

An amazing space opera that expands your thinking into a post utopian world where stellar travel is possible, death defeated, AI works, etc... You have to get through some gore to get it and there is a lot of swearing. The reader is fantastic!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Grand story, but...

Grand story, masterful writing, however...
With all apologies to Peter Kenny, his breathy, hushed, rushed delivery effectively killed my desire to listen to audiobooks for the time being.
Indeed, I could not even finish this one and stopped 20 minutes shy of completion.

Perhaps it’s just that his style is so in contrast with my own internal narration when I read that it just disagreed with me personally.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 2010-12-24

Peter Kenny makes the book worthwhile

I enjoyed Iain M. Banks' book because of an excellent narrator. I am not sure that the story itself is so great... although it falls probably in the genre of tragedy.

This is the first book in Banks' Culture series and is a must to read or listen to should you be interested into being initiated into his universe where man and machine have become equals in the sphere of existence. Set against the background of the Culture (humans and machines) and Iderian war, Horsa, the main character, must find his own way through the maze of loyalties. Horsa chooses against artificial life, just to... well read or listen the book to find out.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Chatswood, Australia
  • 2014-07-03

outstanding reading, so-so plot

Would you try another book from Iain M. Banks and/or Peter Kenny?

I'd try Iain Banks again. I read another book of his which is very good. But this one tales off badly, despite some good ideas. It's like he was a chess player who learnt a lot about openings but had no experience in end games. It goes off like a damp squibb.Ok, this is the first in the series, and others say later books are better and this is necessary background. That might be so. But it doesn't stand alone.Granted, this was one of his first books, written nearly 40 years ago, but it's not that the technology is dated. He just didn't know where his story was leading; at least within this book.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

More of a sense by the end of why we should have been interested in the book

Which scene was your favorite?

Peter Kenny's reading is outstanding. His capacity for different voices and accents, consistently maintained is very impressive. He makes the listening very interesting, and rarely if ever gets the sense of a sentence wrong.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • Ashton, Australia
  • 2010-11-21

Routes of The Culture

A good listen. All the technological depth and character development you could want in a sci-fi novel. If you like "Ring World" or "The Mote In God's Eye", you'll probably like this more.
Only four stars out of five because it mainly lacks the humour of his later books. "Matter" (by the same author) was just brilliant!

Though this is Iain M Banks' first sci-fi novel, it is a 2010 audio production.
Once again, Peter Kenny excels as narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • Dunure, United Kingdom
  • 2011-11-28

Classic, intelligent sciFi

Read this years ago: an absolute classic of sciFi. The novel works on many levels - as a story line, as a set of believable characters, and as a created world of its own. The sciFi environment which envelops the characters is convincing and deeply thought through - right down to the subtlety of the relationship between humans and the highly evolved AI computer systems who jointly form the 'Culture'. The novel is told through the character of an enemy of the Culture, again a thoroughly thought through interpretation of how a genetically modified species might interact with other species and cultures. Mostly though, the sciFi world created is convincing enough to allow the reader just to enjoy the battle of wits between the two principal characters.

Some of the scenes in the book are reflective of the extremities of behaviour which might be expected by extrapolating extreme character traits over immense populations, and I must confess I found them a bit strong - but they do contribute to the depth of characterisation and the sense of urgency in the story line.

The performance from Peter Kenny is well paced and compelling - to quote Jerry Pournelle in the golden days of Byte magazine - 'recommended'.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kaustav Chakravarthy
  • 2019-01-19

A brilliant book if ever there was one.

Breathtaking story set in an expansive, incredibly diverse and well-designed universe. Strong, well fleshed-out characters one really begins to care about. An intelligent, beautifully written story that reads more like poetry than prose. Wonderfully narrated, with each character having a consistent, distinct voice and the right intonation for every situation. What's not to love about this performance! Downloaded the second book in the series before the first one was even finished.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin Newman
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 2017-10-29

Banks is a master

If you like Banks, you'll like this. If you like cerebral sci fi, you'll love this. If you're looking for more adventurous, action or discovery driven sci fi, this book will seem odd to you. This is more like the kind of sci fi that explores human conceits, morality and achievement. It's the kind of sci fi that explores intellectual ideas that concern society, rather than what is out there in the future for us.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne Davis
  • Ireland
  • 2017-08-20

Very good narration / Excellent Story to a point

First two thirds brilliant, then goes off the rails ending too abruptly leaving reader unfulfilled.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-06-26

A nice start to something that really grew up

Culture novels in their infancy are still good reads (listening). Not quite the level of some later installments by Mr. Banks but entertaining space-operas for a bit more mature audiences.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas Tutton
  • 2017-04-29

.

I keep coming back to this one. every time I finish it I mourn the loss of Ian Banks.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Niklas
  • 2017-01-16

Fantastic narrative but shallow plot

He has a fantastic way of paining the environment in vivid ways and with surprising detail. The plot however feels shallow in the big picture and leaves you feeling less than satisfied.